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Water Damage Safety
Water damage in your home or business is bad enough, but the problem may only just be beginning. Failure to properly secure the damaged area after a water damage or flood event may result in serious injury or even death. The scenario quickly becomes one that must be handled correctly and in order so that the problem may be remediated with as few aftereffects as possible.
The first order of business is to locate the cause of the water damage and shut it off, or plug it, or block it, or whatever it takes. It does little good to clean up the mess if more water is going to keep flowing in. Locating the source of the leak will also tell you if the water is contaminated or not.
Shut off the power to the affected area. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and electrical shocks are quite common in situations involving water damage. Do not wade into any pools of standing water. Instead, shut the power off at the source. The reason is simple; you want to have complete control over when and how the power comes back on. Doing work standing ankle deep in water is neither the time nor the place.
We mentioned contaminated water. Water from sources such as backed up sewers or overflowed toilets may be brimming with fecal material, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Any exposed cuts or lacerations may allow these tiny organisms to enter the body and become infected. Always wear proper protective clothing when working in and around flood waters. This would include long sleeves, pants, gloves, work boots, and eyewear. If mold is present, a respirator is called for.
It is always important to remember what is under the water, as there may be objects there that could trigger a nasty slip and fall. Also, in cases of flooding, animals such as snakes may take refuge within homes and businesses, so be mindful where you place your hands.
Keep in mind that moving around in water actually moves the water itself. This may cause a rippling effect that can put water in places where it wasn’t initially, increasing the area that has been damaged.
The best thing to do following water damage is to simply shut off power and gas to the home, salvage what you can without placing yourself at risk for injury, and leaving the scene to a qualified, competent water damage restoration professional.